Change, whether we seek, embrace, like, deny or resist it, is part of our professional and personal lives. Resistance to change is normal and needs to be expected, understood and addressed, not ignored.
A mindset change
Change resistance is like conflict: it can be good or bad, but it needs to be understood and addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. Working with it rather than against it can result in moving the change forward.
Change resistance should not be viewed as a challenge; for instance, it can be used to your advantage as a warning to stop, take a breath and listen. By doing so, you may gain valuable insights that can improve change practices.
The value of change resistance
Next time you have a major change at hand and you are becoming frustrated or way-laid by so called ‘change resisters’ take a moment and reflect on the following tips.
- Sometimes change needs to be slowed down. I know everyone wants it yesterday, but sometimes there needs to be some time out to let others ‘catch up’. Think of that ‘time allowed’ as an investment in the success of the change.
- They may be right. It might simply not be the right change at the right time. Maybe we need to delay the change, consider other consequences, get others involved or even not do that particular change.
- Think. Take time to think: what else? Have we overlooked areas or certain stakeholders? Should we do it differently? Would you do it differently if you had the time again? Think through different approaches.
- Improve. Yes, change resistance can give us insights to improve not only the end result but the journey there. What may have worked in the past may need to be adapted for the future.
- Identify challenges. Challenge, hurdle, obstacle or issue? Different perceptions, different methods, different approaches or the same? Sometimes challenges can help us see the bigger picture and gain greater awareness on details previously overlooked.
- Clarify the ‘what’ and the ‘why’. We know (or think we know) why something must be done at a certain point, but have all the interdependencies been clarified and understood? Is there something missing?
- Reminder to involve people. As people, we experience change all the time. The difference between resisting and embracing change often comes down to whether change is being done to us. It is not so much about resisting change but rather we resist being changed.
“Effective change managers understand that resistance…shows that people are engaged and care about the situation”.
The Effective Change Manager/The Change Management Body of Knowledge,
Change Management Institute, 2013
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